Hockey Night in Canada's Scott Morrison delivers his insights into the world of hockey, on and off the ice.
The weirdness of that World Junior shootout
Wednesday, January 3, 2007 | 03:17 PM ET
By Scott Morrison
Is it just me or is the shootout format in the world junior tournament somewhat flawed?
Or is it just plain weird?
Now, fans of Canadian hockey are obviously happy with the outcome of Wednesday's semi-final game with the United States, in which the Canadians were 2-1 shootout winners and now advance to the gold-medal game. That isn't the point.
But the shootout itself, while entertaining and dramatic, was also somewhat, well, weird. And wrong.
Not unlike the NHL, it is initially a three-shot format, but after that, if tied, a player, including one who took part in the first three shots, can take as many shots as necessary until a winner is determined. For instance, Jonathan Toews scored three times for Canada in the shoot out. The Americans had players take multiple shots themselves.
Notwithstanding the outcome, it still seems like a bizarre way to conclude a big game. Some would argue, of course, that a shootout is the wrong way to decide a semi-final game, period. It says here the teams should have continued playing overtime hockey until a winner was determined.
But then to further skew the process by allowing multiple shots by the same player, seems to further take away from the concept of teams deciding the outcome of a game. Should the two teams not have had to put out a different shooter each time until they either ran through the roster or determined a winner? Doesn't that seem less gimmicky than the other way?
Critics of the shootout format already argue and complain that the game is being decided by a skills competition, but to allow teams to limit the number of players involved is even worse. Indeed, ultimately just four players (a shooter and goaltender on each team) settled the result. Not to mention the pressure it puts on those players, hockey is still a team game and the conclusion of that game was determined more by individuals than team.
The hue and cry will be muted in this country, of course, because the right team won, but not necessarily the right way.
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About the Author
Scott Morrison, the recipient of the Hockey Hall of Fameís 2006 Elmer Ferguson Memorial Award, has been covering hockey for 25 years. The Toronto native began his career at the Toronto Sun in 1979. After spending more than 11 years as a hockey writer and columnist at the paper, Morrison became Sports Editor in 1991 and led the section to being named one of North America's top-ten sports sections in 1999 - the first sports section in Canada to receive the AP Sports Editors North American Award. Scott, a former two-term president of the Professional Hockey Writers' Association, joined Rogers Sportsnet in 2001 as Managing Editor, Hockey, and is currently both a commentator on Hockey Night in Canada and a columnist for CBC.ca.
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